Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Commissioners Make First Round of Cuts

In response to the public’s desire to cut services rather than raise taxes, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners today approved the first in a series of reductions to the 2009 budget and the five-year financial plan. Taking a phased approach to cuts, the County eliminated spending to the tune of $81 million in round one and in doing so balanced the 2009 budget. The cuts affect services in nearly every area of county government operations.

Last March the Board of Commissioners adopted a budget that was built upon a substantial millage rate increase, with the additional revenue from the increase intended to fund the 2009 budget and improvements to services across the organization as part of the county’s five-year plan. The Board of Commissioners reconsidered their position on the property tax increase and voted against it on June 2. After today’s decision, the County is looking at a budget deficit of $60 million in FY 2010, $45 million in FY 2011, and $44 million in FY 2012.

“Immediately following the vote on June 2, I directed County staff to find ways to close the gap–looking at the current fiscal year first, followed by future years’ budgets,” said Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charles Bannister. “The only way to narrow the deficit is to make severe cuts that equate to substantial changes in service levels. Our goal is to preserve the core services we provide to residents, however, every department in the organization will experience a budget reduction that will impact the level of services we can deliver.”

The first round of cuts includes the elimination of all 2009 Board of Commissioners initiatives, more than 100 vacant positions and several program modifications. Today’s reductions* will be incorporated in the County’s budget reconciliation process that will take place in July. Another set of recommendations will be brought before the Board of Commissioners for consideration at the July 21 meeting.
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